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“Driving under the influence” (DUI) and “driving while intoxicated” (DWI) are two names for the crime of drunk driving. Other statutory names for this crime are “operating under the influence” (OUI) and “operating while intoxicated” (OWI). The different names for the crime reflect differences in the state statutes that define the crime. However, all the statutes have the common purpose of punishing drunk driving and driving under the influence of illegal drugs.

The first element of the crime is “driving” or “operating.” This language is designed to describe the level of control a person must have over the vehicle. In many states, the vehicle does not actually have to be moving, and a person sitting behind the wheel of a car, whether or not the engine is running, can be convicted of driving or operating the car. Likewise, courts have found that a person steering a car being towed by another car could be tried for the crime of drunk driving. While passengers are generally not considered drivers or operators of vehicles, they can be if they grab the steering wheel or try to take control of the vehicle.

The definition of “vehicle” is broader than “motor vehicle.” A vehicle can be any device for transporting people or goods. A motor vehicle, by contrast, requires that the device be powered by a motor. These definitions encompass cars, trucks, motorcycles, and motor boats. A question can sometimes arise when the vehicle is inoperable and a distinction can be made between a vehicle that is immobile and inoperable. Another element of the crime is its location. Earlier statutes sometimes included explanatory phrases such as “on the public highways” which led courts to conclude the crime did not apply to persons who drove on private property, including parking lots. However, most statutes now simply require proof that the crime took place within the state.

The underlying purpose of the drunk-driving laws is to prevent operation of a powerful machine when a person is too intoxicated to have adequate control. The intoxication element is proven by one of two methods: (1) showing a certain level of blood alcohol or illegal drugs in the operator’s system, or (2) showing the person was impaired. BAC is the method most often used. It does not rely on anyone’s observations of the defendant’s conduct, but rather on the results of a blood or breath test. A common statutory scheme requires a person suspected of being drunk or under the influence of drugs while driving to give a sample of their breath or blood for testing. This requirement is called implied consent. The statute provides that by operating a motor vehicle, the operator has given his or her consent to be tested. Once the sample is given, it is analyzed by a machine that measures the concentration of alcohol in a person’s blood. The most common limit for blood-alcohol content is .08, however, the limit varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In jurisdictions who employ the implied consent rule, any person who tests over the limit or has the presence of drugs is legally intoxicated. The only way to challenge the charge is to show there was some failure in the test procedure, such as a malfunctioning machine, improper sampling, foreign substances in the mouth (in the case of a breath test), or improper preservation of the evidence.

In contrast, proof of impairment may be based on the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident. It relies on eye-witness testimony, statements of the defendant, and circumstantial evidence. The actual amount of alcohol in a person’s blood stream is irrelevant since the focus is on whether the ability to drive has been impaired. Standard police tests for impairment include having the defendant walk a straight line with one foot placed precisely in front of the other; closing the eyes and standing with arms held out from the body and touching the tip of the nose when instructed; reciting the alphabet; and counting backwards. Other signs of impairment are the officer’s observations of the defendant’s driving, which often leads to the stop. Driving too fast or too slowly, weaving from lane to lane, and going through stop signs have all been used as evidence to demonstrate impaired driving. A statement by a driver about how much he or she had to drink, and how recently, is also used as evidence of impairment when supported by testimony about the probable effects of that amount of alcohol ingested at that time on a person’s physical abilities.

Punishment for drunk driving has become increasingly severe in the past twenty years. In earlier days, people convicted of drunk driving often faced little real punishment if they had not injured anyone or destroyed any property. However, modern laws typically provide for significant jail time and large fines for all offenders. First-time offenders may be given a “break,” such as a suspended sentence conditioned on treatment for substance abuse or attendance at drunk-driving school. The penalty for second or subsequent offenses, however, often includes mandatory minimum jail or prison sentences that cannot be suspended or waived, and stiff fines. The punishment also usually includes revocation of driving privileges for a certain period of time, but it is important to note that the most severe restrictions on the offenders’ driving privileges usually come from the state’s administrative regulations, which are not considered part of the criminal sentence. In fact, many defendants have unsuccessfully attempted to argue that a suspension or revocation of their drivers’ licenses by the administrative agency in addition to the criminal sentence is double punishment that is barred by the double jeopardy clause of the Constitution.


How serious is DUI/DWI?

DUI/DWI is a serious problem. Thousands of Americans are killed each year in DUI/DWI accidents. Although many of those accidents result in the death of the intoxicated party, a significant and unfortunate number involve the death of “innocent” parties who were in the wrong place at a time when someone chose to drive a car while impaired. DUI/DWI is dangerous for those individuals who choose to operate a car under the influence, and for those individuals who are on the road at the same time. In addition to the severe physical injuries that may result from a DUI/DWI accident, there are also serious emotional and mental scars that may never fully heal for both the offenders and their victims.

Is it “safer” to drink beer, wine, or hard liquor in excess?

Any type of alcohol is dangerous when consumed in excess. Different types of drinks contain different concentrations of alcohol, or what may be called “proofs.” The proof rating is two times the alcohol concentration. Therefore, 200 proof liquor has a 100 percent alcohol concentration. Most hard liquors have a higher alcohol concentration than most wines, and most wines have a higher alcohol concentration than most beers, meaning that it may take fewer drinks containing hard liquor or fewer glasses of wine than beers to become intoxicated. However, the alcohol concentration of a drink is not everything. You also have to consider the size of the drink that you are consuming. Therefore, a shot glass of hard liquor, which is usually only about 1-1/2 ounces of alcohol, may end up having the same effect as one five-ounce glass of wine or one twelve-ounce beer.

Drinking any alcoholic beverage to excess is never a good idea. You may seriously injure yourself or others if you decide to operate a car. However, even if you decide not to drive, you may also suffer other physical injuries. Excessive alcohol consumption over a long period of time can cause damage to the kidneys, liver, heart, and brain. Excessive use of alcohol within a short period of time can also lead to death.

What is a blood alcohol content?

Blood alcohol content (BAC) or blood alcohol level (BAL) is a measure of how much ethanol is in your system. The ethanol level in your blood is a byproduct of the broken down alcohol that you consumed. BAC and BAL are measured in a scientific manner, which calculates the ratio of ethanol to blood within your system. Therefore, if you have a BAC of .15, you have .15 grams of ethanol per 100 millimeters of blood in your system. In most jurisdictions, if your BAC or BAL is above .10, and you are operating a car or other vehicle (including some machinery), you are breaking the law.

  • You may still be charged with DUI/DWI even if your BAC or BAL is under .08

Do I have to take a breath analyzer test?

A breath analyzer test measures a person’s BAC or BAL. The amount of ethanol that is in your system is the same as the amount of ethanol that is “on” your breath when you exhale. As a result, police are able to test your BAC or BAL by having you breathe into a breath analyzer. Whether you are required to take the test depends on the law of the state you are in at the time you are pulled over. Under the law in some states, if you refuse to submit to a breath analyzer test or other similar test for measuring your BAC or BAL, such as a blood test, your license will automatically be suspended. If you are later found to have not been intoxicated or impaired, your license may still be suspended in some states as a result of your failure to cooperate.

Can I be charged with DUI/DWI for driving after taking drugs?

Yes. If you operate a car under the influence of drugs such as heroin, cocaine, marijuana, or any other illegal substance, you can be charged with a crime. In addition, it is not only illegal drugs that can get you into trouble. Many prescription medications and some over-the-counter medications carry with them specific warnings that they may impair abilities and should not be used while operating any motor vehicles. Check the labels on all medications carefully. Do not get behind the wheel if you are taking any medications that are incompatible with safe driving.

What will happen if I have more than one DUI/DWI conviction?

The consequences of multiple DUI/DWI convictions depend upon the state in which you received the convictions. In most jurisdictions, there is a “step-up” method for handling multiple DUI/DWI convictions for the same person. In some states, a person will be required to pay a fine and perhaps serve a minimum term of imprisonment for a first conviction, in addition to having their license suspended. For a second offense, some states may increase the fines and imprisonment or term of suspension. Additional offenses may result in driver’s license revocation, incarceration, and the loss of driving privileges for life. Additionally, in some states, a judge may order that the offender participate in an alcohol or drug treatment and education program. Of course, if you seriously injure or kill another person while operating under the influence, you may face additional charges and civil lawsuits.

Are “alternative” penalties appropriate for DUI/DWI?

In many cases “alternative” penalties are allowed in DUI/DWI cases. A judge hearing your case may have discretion in deciding how you should be punished. In situations where you have seriously injured or killed another person, the judge may not have such discretion, but in first time offenses, or in less serious matters, a judge may be able to require you to perform community service, such as giving talks about the dangers of drunk driving. In other situations, a judge may require you to place a license plate on your vehicle or a mark on your driver’s license that indicates that you have been convicted of DUI/DWI.

Should I get an attorney if I have been charged with DUI/DWI?

Although you are not required to have an attorney, it is advisable to retain a defense lawyer if you have been placed under arrest or charged with DUI/DWI. These laws are strictly enforced and an experienced DUI/DWI attorney can help protect your rights. Some states require that the police provide you with a list of local DUI/DWI defense attorneys. Your chances of successfully making defense arguments or finding mistakes that may have been made in your arrest are much greater if you have an attorney assisting you. If you are faced with a DUI/DWI charge, an attorney is your best bet for avoiding or reducing the penalties or imprisonment you face.

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Felony Defense

You should NOT face a felony criminal charge without an experienced and skilled felony criminal defense lawyer. Regardless of the nature of the charge, the facts of the case, and the evidence against you, you need a criminal defense attorney to protect your rights every step of the way. Prosecutors aggressively pursue conviction in felony cases. You need an attorney to aggressively defend you.

We have significant experience representing clients in felony criminal cases, including numerous successful felony jury trials. No matter what type of felony you are charged with, we can help.

Conviction for a felony in Texas can result in large fines, local jail time, state prison time, loss of certain civil rights, and a felony criminal record that can prevent you from obtaining housing, credit, and employment nationwide. Do not risk answering a felony charge without experienced felony defense counsel at your side.

Your felony case requires thorough investigation and trial preparation. Even if you decide to enter plea negotiations and seek a non-felony conviction, we are always prepared to proceed to trial.

ALWAYS REMEMBER: You have the right to have a your attorney present at EVERY proceeding, including questioning by police and prosecutors. If you are facing a felony criminal charge or your loved one is under arrest for potential felony charges, contact us immediately.

* Our criminal defense trial lawyers provide representation for families and individuals throughout Austin, TX, including Travis, Hays, Williamson, and Bastrop counties.

Misdemeanor Defense

Misdemeanor charges must be taken seriously. Conviction for a misdemeanor, even some traffic offenses, has serious and long-term consequences, including:

  • Establishment of a Criminal Record
  • Large Fines
  • Increased Insurance Premiums
  • Probation
  • Jail Time

We regularly represent clients charged with misdemeanors involving traffic offenses, drug charges, disorderly conduct, minor assault, and theft. If you are guilty of the offense charged, and you are a first-time offender, we can explore several options for keeping a conviction off your record and avoiding serious consequences. However, if you go to court without a lawyer and simply plead guilty, there is a wide range of consequences that the court might see fit to impose upon you.

If you are convicted of drunk driving (DWI), you face additional penalties, including:

  • Loss of Your Driver’s License
  • Court-Ordered Alcohol Education & Treatment

Police, prosecutors, and judges throughout Texas do not consider drunk driving to be a minor traffic offense; they consider it to be a serious criminal charge. You need a serious and experienced DWI attorney to represent you.

Misdemeanors and traffic offense charges are just like any other criminal case in that the State is required to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. We hold the State to their burden, while protecting your rights.

Before you pay a ticket or enter a guilty plea, contact us to discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense lawyer at NO CHARGE.

* Our criminal defense lawyers provide representation for families and individuals throughout Austin, TX, including Travis, Hays, Williamson, and Bastrop counties.


Criminal Defense

We provide a comprehensive criminal defense practice, in which we represent clients facing misdemeanor and felony criminal charges throughout Texas.

If you are convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony in Texas, penalties can include large fines, probation, county jail time, and a state prison sentence.  You need an experienced Texas criminal defense lawyer to protect your rights and advocate for you.

We have successfully represented clients in criminal cases involving a wide range of charges, including:

Drug Possession / Sale
Traffic Offenses
Drunk Driving (DWI)
Reckless / Careless Driving
Driving Without Valid License / Insurance
White-Collar Crime
Post-Conviction Motions
Bail Reduction Motions
Domestic Assault
Criminal Sexual Conduct
Burglary / Robbery
Internet Crime
Parole / Probation Violations
Juvenile Representation

We also represent clients on post-conviction matters, including parole and probation violation proceedings and appeals.

If you or your loved one was arrested, charged by complaint, indicted, or issued a traffic citation, contact us at once. We will schedule a FREE CONSULTATION for you to meet with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. In any criminal case it is important to locate and secure evidence, begin an immediate investigation, and represent you during any questioning by police or prosecutors.

* Our criminal defense attorneys provide representation for families and individuals throughout Austin, TX, including Travis, Hays, Williamson, and Bastrop counties.


Child Custody

For most families, safeguarding the interests of children is of paramount importance in divorce proceedings.  Establishing custody (managing conservatorship) for children must be handled in a manner that keeps the children’s needs and interests at the forefront of all negotiations and agreements.

If you have children and you are facing divorce, working with an experienced and patient child custody attorney serves to protect your parental rights, while at the same time insuring that all agreements are also mindful of your children’s rights, needs, and interests.

Through careful and deliberate negotiation, and often mediation, we work with you and your spouse, and his or her attorney, to craft custody and visitation arrangements that are realistic, fair, flexible, and in compliance with Texas child custody laws.

If fair agreements are unavailable and you and your spouse are far apart on custody matters, we are experienced litigators and will aggressively pursue court-ordered custody for you.

Some things to consider when negotiating child custody agreements

  • Are you considering shared custody or joint custody?
  • How far apart will you and your spouse be living?
  • How will custody and visitation terms interfere with or enhance your child’s school and activity schedule?
  • Will extensive and inconvenient transportation be required to meet the terms of your agreements?
  • How will you and your children spend holidays?
  • Are you thinking creatively and exploring ALL options?

Contact us to get started designing a custody arrangement that is right for you.

* Our child custody lawyers provide representation for families and individuals throughout Austin, TX, including Travis, Hays, Williamson, and Bastrop counties.

Family Law

Our family law practice includes providing advice and representation for clients in a wide range of family legal matters. Through negotiation, mediation, and litigation, we help clients throughout Texas resolve the difficult issues created by divorce, including matters involving:

  • Child Custody
  • Child Visitation
  • Child Support
  • Spousal Support (Alimony)
  • Marital Property Division

We continue to work with you as your circumstances change and you require modification of custody or support agreements.

We also provide a wide range of non-divorce related family law services. If you seek to expand your family through the adoption of a child, we will work with you to insure that all the legal aspects are handled correctly and promptly so you can get a child of your own as soon as possible. We also work with families on stepparent adoptions.

If you are facing or initiating a paternity lawsuit, we will work with you to successfully establish true paternity through a DNA paternity test. We also work with you following paternity establishment to secure appropriate child support, custody and visitation provisions.

If you are the victim of domestic violence or you are facing an unreasonable protective order request, we will represent you and help you insure that the appropriate steps are taken to protect you or safeguard your rights. In our criminal defense division, we represent clients criminally charged with violation of protective orders.

Visit our contact us anytime to speak with an experienced family law attorney.


Are you contemplating divorce? Is your spouse seeking a divorce? Are you worried about what will happen to your children and your property? We can help.

When divorce is inevitable, working with an experienced and understanding Austin, Texas divorce attorney can help you make a smooth transition, while also helping you protect the things for which you have worked so hard.

Divorce does not have to devastate your family. We will work with you and every member of your family to design custom-tailored and workable agreements on child custody and visitation, child and spousal support, and equitable division of assets and debt. We make sure your agreements are fair and in compliance with Texas divorce laws.

While we always work diligently to help you reach agreements, we never allow anyone to take advantage of you. We have extensive experience litigating contested divorce issues. Whether you are unable to agree on child custody, you disagree on asset valuation, or you dispute child custody calculations, we will vigorously advocate for you in court. When meaningful negotiation and mediation are unavailable, you need an experienced and skilled divorce lawyer to litigate your case and advocate for your rights and interests.

Divorce does not have to mean the end of your relationship with your children, nor does divorce have to mean financial ruin and the loss of everything you have. We can help.

Visit our Frequently Asked Questions on divorce to learn more or contact us anytime to speak with an experienced Texas divorce attorney.

* Our divorce lawyers provide representation for families and individuals throughout Austin, TX, including Travis, Hays, Williamson, and Bastrop counties.

Family Law - Criminal Defense

Family Law

We provide a full-service family law practice, in which we offer advice and representation on all divorce proceedings and related matters, including child support, child custody and visitation, spousal support (alimony), and division of marital assets and debts. We also represent clients on post-decree matters, including modification of custody, visitation, and support orders.

Our family law practice also includes assistance with a variety of non-divorce related matters, such as adoption, paternity, domestic violence, protective orders, and termination of parental rights.

If your family is experiencing any of these crises, working with a knowledgeable and compassionate family law attorney is the first step toward a successful resolution. Visit our Family Law section and our Divorce – Frequently Asked Questions to learn more.


Criminal Defense

We represent individuals charged with misdemeanor and felony offenses in Texas State Courts and in United States District Court. If you are facing criminal charges, even for a misdemeanor, such as drunk driving (DWI), a conviction will result in serious and long-term consequences. You need an experienced and skilled criminal defense lawyer to protect your rights and advocate for you in court. When your future and your freedom are on the line, we will work tirelessly to defend you and protect you from conviction.

Visit our Criminal Defense section to learn more or contact us anytime to schedule a FREE CONSULTATION for your criminal matter.

* Our attorneys provide representation for families and individuals throughout Austin, TX, including Travis, Hays, Williamson, and Bastrop counties.


E. Craig Lusk and Jon Evans are experienced and established Austin attorneys. Both are recognized and respected throughout the Texas legal community for their dedication to effectively representing their clients’ rights and interests. Mr. Lusk and Mr. Evans have each devoted their careers to successfully representing clients primarily in the areas of family law and criminal defense, respectively. Whether you need an experienced family law attorney or a skilled criminal defense lawyer, Mr. Lusk and Mr. Evans possess the knowledge, experience, and trial talent to represent you at any level of the State or Federal Courts.

Contact us anytime to schedule a consultation with Mr. Lusk or Mr. Evans.

E. Craig Lusk - Partner
Jon Evans - Partner
Jesus “Bubba” Salinas - Partner
Katherine Bliss - Legal Assistant

Since its establishment, our firm has been dedicated to providing the best advice and guidance, and the most vigorous and effective representation in the areas of family law and criminal defense. Because our practice is focused primarily on these two areas, we are able to provide a high level of knowledge and experience in these areas. Rather than trying to be everything to everyone, we simply want to be the best family lawyers and criminal defense attorneys for every one of our clients.

Clients with legal problems that involve issues of criminal law and family law frequently benefit from our practice by receiving advice and services in one place. For some couples, divorce is the result of domestic violence. You may have civil and criminal issues involving protective orders. We are equipped to assist you with all matters that encompass family and criminal law. Whether you need to request modification of child custody or child support agreements, or you face a criminal drug possession charge, or if your child is facing a juvenile criminal proceeding, we can help.

Our attorneys and staff are devoted to providing an environment where you can come and comfortably discuss your case, and where you will receive useful and effective advice on how to proceed. Our lawyers work with you one-on-one to examine all aspects of your case and seek the best solution for your particular situation.

If you need assistance with divorce or another family law matter, or you or your loved one is charged with a crime, contact us anytime to schedule a consultation.